The E.P.L.F. has fought for thirty years for an independence referendum. Now they may not need that vote if their military successes continue. Similarly, the T.P.L.F.’S quest for greater regional autonomy has been supplanted by a desire to overthrow the Mengistu regime and replace it with a more representative government. The military prospects for the two liberation groups brightened over the past year because they launched a series of coordinated offensives.
After pumping in $800 million in arms to shore up the regime in 1989, the Soviet Union has pledged to end such shipments in 1991. To fill the anticipated gap, Ethiopia has turned to a friend from the days when Emperor Haile Selassie ruled the roost: Israel. Currently the largest recipient of U.S. aid, Israel recently provided Mengistu with cluster bombs, white phosphorus bombs, Uzi submachine guns and other forms of lethal aid. Hundreds of Israeli advisers have been training Ethiopian troops and crafting recent Ethiopian military strategies, including the aerial bombardment of civilian targets. Israel and Ethiopia stress the importance of cooperation to prevent the Red Sea from becoming the Arab Sea,’ as Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia warned, referring to the large number of Muslims living in Eritrea.
Recent talks between the E.P.L.F. and the Mengistu regime, mediated by former President Jimmy Carter, foundered over the regime’s refusal to discuss famine relief or to invite the United Nations to the negotiations, despite having signed an agreement to do so.
According to news website RightWinged.com, the crisis has seriously Continue reading
The extraordinary operation, code-named Solomon after the ancient king of Israel, was similar to a surprise airlift that brought 12,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1984 and 1985. “It’s a great moment for all our people,” Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declared last Saturday after the latest operation ended. Back in Ethiopia, however, other dramatic events continued to unfold. Rebels closed in on Addis Ababa on the weekend, even as they reportedly assured American officials that they would not enter the city before U.S.-brokered peace talks opened in London this week. Another group of guerrillas announced that they had captured Asmara, capital of the Red Sea province of Eritrea and the country’s second-largest city. For residents of Africa’s oldest independent state, long ravaged by civil war and famine, the latest developments provoked both joy and apprehension–joy at throwing off their dictator after 17 years of Marxist rule, apprehension because the rebels who sought to supplant him had equally strong Marxist credentials.
The collapse of the Ethiopian dictatorship, abandoned by its onetime Soviet sponsors …
Seventeen years of Marxist rule under Mengistu’s military government had clearly left the traditionally conservative Ethiopians in no mood for more of the same. But the victorious Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front appeared to be even more communist-oriented than the regime that it had ousted. As well, the rebel movement was dominated by Tigreans, members of an ethnic group from the north of the country whom the Amhara people of the capital tend to regard as inferior.
The Amharas were further enraged by the prospect of becoming landlocked when the victorious front’s separatist allies from the Red Sea province of Eritrea, the Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front, announced their intention to form an administration of their own. That move appeared to foreshadow a complete break with the rest of the country. And to the evident dismay of many Amharas, the U.S. administration seemingly sanctioned such a move when assistant secretary of state Herman Cohen said that the Eritreans, who began their fight for independence in 1960, deserved the opportunity to vote on the …
The changes taking place in Ethiopia are in line with international political trends in which nation states, especially empire states, are weakening and, for better or worse, many democratic movements have taken nationalistic forms, However, the changes in Ethiopia are also the result of a long struggle of the oppressed peoples of Ethiopia. Indeed, it was the combined assault of the Eritrean, Tigrayan, and Oromo liberation movements that defeated the pseudo-Marxist regime of Mengistu in May of last year. That victory ended seventeen years of totalitarian rule, thirty years of war in Eritrea, and ignited hope among the peoples of Southern Ethiopia that the century-old idiosyncratic colonization they have experienced may come to and end.
The flux that is now Ethiopia, and the democratic transformation that is desired, is taking place in the context of certain opportunities and constraints. The opportunity is afforded by the new global political economy signalled by the end of the cold war. This could mean less foreign intervention and no proxy wars. The hope is that existing …
Sileshi Semaw felt as if he had stumbled onto a gold mine. And in the world of archaeology, where researchers count themselves fortunate to find a few scattered artifacts, he had. In the Gona region of Ethiopia in a small patch of desert about the size of a three-bedroom house, Semaw and his colleagues had dug up three thousand stone tools — and with them, clues to the early emergence of a human ancestor.
For these were not just any tools. The stones, which are 2.5 million years old, were evenly flaked to a sharp edge, as if they had been carefully carved into fine choppers. That kind of skilled manufacture, Semaw reported last year, had previously been seen only in tools that were about one million years younger — the work of early members of our own genus, Homo. Together with the discovery of a 2.3-million-year-old Homo jaw in a neighboring region of Ethiopia by another research team, the discovery pushes the first appearance of this important human ancestor back by …
If you found spears from four hundred thousand years ago, and they looked like modern spears, then you could rewrite human history. Hartmut Thieme has found those spears.
Even before the lights dimmed, the atmosphere in the conference room was thick with anticipation. For months, rumors had been circulating among archaeologists that several remarkably old weapons had surfaced in an ancient German forest. Now, on this morning in March 1996, a group of European prehistory specialists had gathered in Leiden, the Netherlands, to see for themselves if the rumors were true.
Then Hartmut Thieme asked someone to pull the blinds shut. Everyone knew Thieme — there are so few sites in Europe older than one hundred thousand years that everyone who studies them knows everyone else — but until a few months earlier Thieme had worked in relative quiet as an archaeologist for the German government. Robin Dennell, an archaeologist at Britain’s Sheffield University, remembers the moment when Thieme’s obscurity ended. “When Hartmut flicked on that first slide,” says Dennell, “we were …
In many parts of northeastern Africa, the spring rains have not arrived for three years — triggering massive crop failures and threatening almost 16 million people with starvation. Thousands have already died; about 400 people are now dying each month in Gode alone. Wars in the region are preventing the delivery of food; in some places, men with Kalashnikov rifles, patrolling what remains of watering holes, turn away people dying of thirst. Nomads, many little more than wandering skeletons, walk for days in search of relief workers with food. Others sit, exhausted, and wait for death to find them.
Children are the first to die. At a makeshift shelter in the town of Denan, 110 km southeast from Gode, mothers holding their malnourished children stare blankly into space. The children are often too sick to eat. When one mother tries to force-feed her baby daughter, the formula drips down the little girl’s chest. The baby’s eyelids flicker, and nearing death she drops her head — just as an aid worker directs another …
I had come to Harar with a small group from Addis Ababa, which lies about 250 miles to the east, about a twelve-hour journey by road in good conditions. We chose to take the more widely preferred route, a flight into Dire Dawa, Ethiopia’s second-largest city. Located 35 miles west of Harar, Dire Dawa was established as Addis Harar (New Harar) in 1902 as the main rail station between Addis and Djibouti. (There are currently plans to refurbish the royal railcars used by Haile Selassie for an Orient Express–style excursion train on the line.)
On the mountain road from the airport, we passed several villages, workmen chipping stone by the roadside, and herds of cattle being driven to new pastures and markets. In the village of Aw Wadai, we paused to join the people congregated for market. The main commodities offered were fruits, vegetables, and the leaves of a mildly addictive though stimulating plant called chat (qat). Muslims are not allowed alcoholic drinks, but some spend their spare time hazily chewing chat.…
When Abebe Bikila lined up for the 1960 Olympic marathon, the crowd laughed. They pointed. They couldn’t believe their eyes!
Abebe Bikila was some unknown guy from Ethiopia, a country in Africa. He was about to run in the Olympic Games against 68 of the world’s best marathon runners. The 25-mile course lay over Rome’s rough cobblestone streets. Everyone knew the race would be tough.
But when Abebe lined up for the start–he wasn’t wearing any shoes!
Soon, though, the crowd’s laughter turned into cheers. Abebe was winning! The crowd offered him water as he passed by, but Abebe refused. Even after running 25 miles, he wasn’t thirsty.
Abebe won the gold medal that day. He won by 25 seconds. He won the gold again in 1964. This time he wore shoes–and won by a whopping 4 minutes!
One hundred and eighteen years ago, baseball gloves were for babies. No baseball player would dare wear one. If you couldn’t catch the ball barehanded, then you shouldn’t be playing in the first …
Fossil hunters working under the baking sun in a dry bed of the Lake Turkana basin in northern Kenya recently made a remarkable discovery. They found the skull and jawbone of a humanlike creature that lived 3.5 million years ago. The scientists believe the bones might belong to the ancestor of the human race.
The trouble with the discovery is that scientists thought they had already discovered the ancestor of the human race. They thought it was Lucy.
Everyone Loves Lucy
Who’s Lucy? Lucy is a 3.2-million-year-old partial female skeleton that was unearthed in the arid badlands of the northern Afar region of Ethiopia in 1974 by Donald Johanson, now an Arizona State University anthropology professor. Named after the title character in the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” the short-legged Lucy stood about 107 centimeters tall (about 3 feet 6 inches), weighed about 30 kilograms (66 pounds), and was bipedal (walked on two legs). Lucy had long arms for swinging through trees; a chimplike, protruding face; and huge grinding …